Stuffed Pumpkin

I first heard about this on NPR, when Dorie Greenspan was interviewed for a fall baking dish and also to promote her new book of Around my French Table.  Which I promptly put in my Amazon cart and which I now possess.  But because she encourages you to make this recipe your own, mine is nothing like hers except you start with a hollowed-out pumpkin and somewhere along the line you fill it will good things, put it in a 350 degree over for 90 minutes to two hours.  So I bought a sugar pumpkin at Trader Joe’s one day, and since we were having company for Halloween Night (the  trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood all grew up and went to college), I decided to try this.  Mine is stuffed with a small pasta blend (from Trader Joe’s), mushrooms and some Jimmy Dean’s sage sausage.  I roasted it with the lid on for 90 minutes, and it was done.  It makes a great presentation.

Start with the way Dorie starts: cut the lid off a pumpkin and hollow it out, scraping the flesh slightly to get rid of the stringy bits.  Sprinkle the inside cavity with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  I found it easier to grind the salt and pepper onto my cutting board, then pinch by pinch, sprinkle it around the inside cavity (the nutmeg went on from the spice bottle, no trouble).  Set aside.

In a medium size pot, brown the sausage well.  Turn off the heat, set aside.

Wash and cut about 3/4 pound crimini mushrooms into chunks.  In 1 Tablespoon butter, sautee half of the mushrooms in a saucepan (you’ll use this saucepan later for the pasta cooking); don’t crowd.  As they get done, dump them into the sausage, stir to mix.

When mushrooms are done, in about 1 Tablespoon olive oil, cook until slightly soft: 1 shallot, chopped and 1 large (2 small, or 3 weensy) cloves of garlic.  Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups of Harvest Grains Blend** mix (about 1/2 of the package), then add in 1 can of reduced salt Swanson’s chicken broth.  Cook until al dente–it will continue to cook in the pumpkin.  Add this slightly soupy mix to the sausage and mushrooms; stir to mix.

Spoon into your pumpkin, and don’t pack it down.  Just loosely spoon it in.  Set the pumpkin on a cookie sheet that has been lined with a sheet of parchment (or a Silpat) and bake at 350 for 90 minutes to 2 hours.  Check at 90 minutes.  The tip of knife blade should go in easily.  If the mixture is too soupy (mine wasn’t, but Dorie’s was) leave the lid off for the last few minutes.

Serve with freshly grated cheese, to be added atop the melange.  We served it by slicing it into wedges, then scooping out the mushroom/sausage mixture into a shallow bowl, topped with the cheese.  Encourage your guests to mix the cooked pumpkin with the rest–delicious.

I decided to try this again tonight, to see if we still liked it.  We did.  It’s perfect for a fall supper, and since a) today’s the last day in November–made it under the wire for fall, and b) we’re supposed to get a ten-year wind event tonight.  The house is creaking and moaning, and it feels like a Winnie-the-Pooh blustery day.

**Harvest Grain Blend: Could substitute a mix of pearl couscous, red quinoa, orzo and miniscule baby garbanzo beans.  At least that’s what the package says is in there.

Cranberry Sauce Duo

We went back and forth this year on whether or not to go out to a restaurant or stay home and cook.  Out?  In?  And since all our children were taken care of and I heard it was going to rain, In was what won in the end.  I went looking for my mother’s most recent cranberry sauce recipe–tore apart all my stashes of clipped, stained, printed-out papers but couldn’t find it.  I went to Epicurious and searched.  Then I realized I probably had it on my computer.  Duh.

So here are two cranberry sauce recipes.  The first is from Epicurious, dated 2000. It’s a bit tart, but with the addition of ginger and the pepper, has a good tang to it. The second came from my mother and I don’t know where she got it from.

Cranberry Relish, from Epicurious

2 oranges
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, cut in fine julienne
1 bag (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Preparation
1. Peel 1 orange and cut the zest (orange part only) into a very fine julienne, as thin as possible; set aside. Squeeze both oranges for juice; set aside.

2. Combine sugar and lemon juice in a small sauté pan. Heat up slowly and continue cooking until the sugar begins to caramelize. If necessary, wash down the sides of the pan by brushing with a little water to keep the sugar from burning.

3. When the sugar is caramel colored, add the julienned ginger and orange zest. Cook for about 1 minute, then add the cranberries, orange juice and pepper. Continue to cook on medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the cranberries are slightly broken but not mushy (frozen cranberries will take about 7 minutes). Remove from the heat and let cool.

Cook’s Notes: I like my berry sauce a little soft, so I cooked it a little longer than they said.  I also tasted it and added about 2 Tablespoons sugar as it was a bit mouth-puckery too tart for me.  I think my oranges were smaller so everything was more intense.  I also grated my fresh ginger, as I keep it in the freezer and there was no way it could have been julienned.

Mom’s Cranberry Sauce, 2006

Cook 12 oz bag fresh cranberries in 1 cup water until skins pop open.  Add 2 cups sugar, scant cup chopped golden raisens, 1 chopped Granny Smith apple, zest and juice of 1 lemon, zest and juice of 1 orange.  Cook 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.

(The best yet, she says.)

Pear, Cranberry and Gingersnap Crumble

I regularly haunt Smitten Kitchen’s website as she cooks food that I can make, with only a few photos here and there, which makes it an easy read. (I don’t particularly object to a raft of photos, as they are helpful when a new technique is being presented, but occasionally they can get out of hand.)  But I’d have to say it’s her combination of ingredients that are the usual standouts.  She just has a way with food.  Summer Strawberry Cake is one of hers, too, and if you haven’t made that this summer, then you’ve really missed out.

Anyway, here’s a fall treat, made beautiful with three kinds of pears and cranberries and an interesting crumble on top, made from gingersnap cookies.  I bought a box in the grocery store and on first glance, I thought I’d bought a box of brown thin hockey pucks.  I snapped them (with some effort) into fourths then whirled the 16-18 cookies in my food processor to make the crumbs (although a ziploc bag and a swift firm hand with a kitchen mallet would also do the trick).  Amazingly, with the suggested addition of the ginger and pepper, those hideous store-bought cookies turned out okay atop the steaming, juicy pears and cranberries.

Adapated from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Sweet Melissa Patisserie

Crumble
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons (37 grams) packed dark or light brown sugar
1 cup gingersnap crumbs (4 ounces or 113 grams or about 16 storebought cookies)
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon table salt
Pinch of white pepper, especially if your gingersnaps aren’t particularly snappish
1/4 cup (1/2 stick  or 113 grams) butter, melted and cooled

Beauty shot of the pears.
From left to right: Bartlett (yellowish), Anjou, and Bosc.
The Anjou and Bosc are a little crisper than the Bartlett, but cook up well.

And here’s my trick for coring pears: a clay tool from an art supply store.

Filling
2 pounds (about 4 to 5) large ripe pears (I used combination of Anjou, Bartlett and Bosc) peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces or 170 grams) fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (14 grams) cornstarch

Do you have one of these microplanes for zesting?  I figure I used about 1/2 of the lemon for this recipe.  You can freeze the remainder, wrapped up in a square of wax paper, then into a ziploc baggie.  Label it, please, before you stick it in your freezer. (You’ll thank me later.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Stir together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, gingersnap crumbs, ginger and salt. Stir in the melted butter until large crumbs form.

In a large bowl, mix the pears, cranberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together then toss it with the fruit mixture.

I just had to show you a picture of this before I sprinkled on the gingersnap topping.  Positively holiday-ish! I made this, doubled, for serving to the ladies in church.  Aside from the time taken to peel the pears, it’s a quick and easy recipe.

In a 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish, layer in the pear-cranberry mixture, then sprinkle the gingersnap crumble over the fruit. Set the crumble on a foil-lined baking sheet (if you are worried about it  bubbling over—I baked mine in a 9×13 pan and had no troubles) and bake it for about 45 minutes, until the crumble is a shade darker and you see juices bubbling through the crumbs. Let cool a little bit, then enjoy.

Cook’s Notes: The original recipe called for 1/2 cup [unsalted) butter in the gingersnap crumb topping; if you use that amount then the crumble will probably stay crisper an extra day.  Ours became softer the second day, but the flavor was still amazing—I wonder if it is the combination of the three pears together?  (The original merely asked for Anjou.)

And what am I doing in the photo above?  Weighing the ingredients.  You’ve noticed that all of her ingredients have a weight listed next to them.  She predicts that this will be the wave of the future, similar to what they do it in Europe. I decided to try it.  I placed the bowl on, zero-ed it out, then added each ingredient, zero-ing out after each.  I can change to kilograms from ounces on my scale; I suggest if you are going to try this, you look for that feature as well.  Instead of multiple cups and bowls, it’s just one-bowl-mixing for the dry ingredients.  Nice.

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Buttermilk Icing

I found this on the web, by a librarian who was having her own personal Bundt Cake Pan challenge: a new cake a day made in her much, un-used bundt pan.  I think I happened on her post right on this day, downloaded the recipe, which originally came from Gourmet Magazine in November 2005.  It is a very moist cake, mild on the spices and it is good for fall baking, leaving a delicous aroma of pumpkin in the air.

For cake
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bundt pan
2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15-ounce can; not pie filling)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
For icing
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons well-shaken buttermilk
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
Special equipment: a 10-inch nonstick bundt pan (3 quart)

Preparation

Make cake:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bundt pan generously, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Whisk together flour (2 1/4 cups), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and vanilla in another bowl.

Beat butter (1 1/2 sticks) and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.

Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and reinvert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.

Make icing:
While cake is cooling, whisk together buttermilk and confectioners sugar until smooth. Drizzle icing over warm cake, then cool cake completely. Icing will harden slightly.

Cooks’ note: Cake can be made 3 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.  I used the 2 1/4 cups flour it called for, but I believe 2 1/2 cups would be better.  I substituted in 3/4 whole wheat flour for a like amount of the white flour.

Three-Potato Gratin

This recipe was originally published in Bon Appetit in November of 2006, but of course, I’ve made some changes (which are in the recipe below).  This is so good and so perfect that people will fight over the leftovers.  I’ve never had any Thanksgiving Day recipe like that.

Ingredients
3 pounds mixed russet potatoes and sweet potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
[I used 3 sweet potatoes, 2 russet potatoes, and 1 yam & the color was gorgeous!]

Butter for baking dish and foil

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped sage
1 minced garlic clove
1 teaspoon kosher salt
ground black pepper
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese (or mild Swiss cheese)

Preparation

Layer potatoes in a buttered 11×7-inch baking dish, alternating the type of potato on each layer.

Combine heavy whipping cream, chicken broth, chopped sage, garlic, and salt; pour over potatoes. Sprinkle with pepper. Cover with buttered foil; bake at 425°F for 35-45 minutes. Sprinkle with Gruyère cheese. Bake uncovered until brown and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let rest before serving.

I put this in the microwave for about 15 minutes first, in order to heat up the liquids and get a jump-start on the baking.

Here it is in all its cheesy, rich goodness.

Elizabeth’s Lemon Butter Sauce

This is the kind of cake sauce that people will attempt to drink right out of the pan, it’s that good.  For many years I taught a monthly lesson in our Women’s Church Auxiliary and invariably, every December, my lesson would fall on the Sunday before Christmas.  That first time, I organized a program of stories, songs, and singing, and then brought out Gingerbread Cake with Lemon-Butter Sauce for the finale.  All of us women would sit around for the last few minutes of our meeting, eating the delicious treat and just visiting.  I would play Christmas music on a tape recorder (those were the days) while the women who had spent the better part of the last month shopping, planning, cleaning, wrapping, feeling frenzied and overwhelmed, could just sit.  Sit and enjoy each other’s company, the carols of Christmas and some warm gingerbread.  It was always one of my favorite moments of the season.

1/2 cup REAL butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup light cream

4 teaspoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon rum extract

a shake of ground nutmeg

Blend together and stir constantly while heating so it doesn’t scorch.  Cook until slightly thick.  Add the freshly-squeezed lemon juice, the rum and vanilla extracts.  Add a dash of nutmeg.  Serve warm over cake.  Try not to lick the spoon.

Note: I also serve this with the Old-fashioned Gingerbread Cake, Gingerbread Cake, Baked Cranberry Pudding, and the Apple Cake.

Butternut Crunch Toffee

I found this in our local newspaper, back in the day when newspapers had full-fledged cooking sections.  In the olden days, back when newspapers were read every day around the breakfast/dinner table, there were many pages devoted to Christmas cookies, delectable sweets, ways to manage the Big Day’s meal, and lots of other columns imported from other news services.  I cut it out and tried it.  My husband, whose favorite candy at the time was Almond Roca, declared this recipe A Hit.  I’ve made it just about every Christmas since.  According to the article, it came from Ann Hodgman’s Beat This! Cookbook, published in 1993.  Now you know really how old this clipping is.  I’ve made some changes: the recipe as listed below includes these changes.

1 cup (2 sticks) lightly salted butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
1 cup whole almonds
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Scatter the whole almonds over a cookie sheet and place under the broiler until lightly toasted–don’t burn!  Let cool, then chop them up in a food processor.  Scatter half of the almonds over a cookie sheet; reserve the rest for later.  [Note: I’ve always used a cookie sheet, but the recipe calls for a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Pick your poison.]

In a medium heavy saucepan, over medium to medium-low heat, melt the butter.  With a spatula kind of scoot some up on the sides so as to “butter the pan.”  As soon as the butter is melted, stir in the sugar. Continue to stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture comes to a rolling boil (a boil that can not be stirred away).  Add the corn-syrup-water mixture and stir well; the mixture will hiss for a few seconds, but that’s all right.

With the pan still on the heat, cover the saucepan and leave it covered for 3 minutes (use a timer).  Then uncover it and stick in a candy thermometer.  Keeping the heat at medium-low, and stirring once in a while, heat the mixture to 300 degrees.  (My sister Christine also uses the paper bag test: she holds up a brown paper sack and when the toffee is that color, it’s time to yank it. *Note: for higher altitudes, for every 1000 feet above sea level, subtract 2 degrees.*)

When the candy finally reaches 300 degrees (it seems to get stuck at 220 and stays there for a long time), remove the candy from the heat immediately and pour it onto the chopped nuts, tilting the pan back and forth to cover it evenly.  The recipe says not to scrape the pan or the candy might crystallize, but I’ve been known to help down the last little ribbon of toffee mixture from the side with my spatula.  Other than that, I obey, and generally don’t scrape the pan.

Let it cool for a few minutes, then scatter chocolate chips over the surface (another trick from my sister).  The heat from the cooling toffee will melt the chips.

When they are melted, take a spatula and smooth out the chocolate.

Then scatter the remaining chopped almonds over the surface.

Let it really cool down.  A lot.  When the chocolate is set (about 2 hours or so), break up the toffee into pieces by “stabbing” straight down into the toffee with a paring knife until you hear it break. More stabs equals smaller pieces.  I put it into a dish, then pour the extra bits of nuts and toffee over that.  Makes about 1 pound of candy.

Creamy Chocolate Fudge

One year I was in charge of the Universe.  Just kidding.  But I was in charge of a Christmas event at church which included a video broadcast and Those In Charge wanted a big turnout.  So I hit on the idea of singing Christmas Carols before, then having a giant cookie feast afterward.  I think desserts is always a category where church-goers excel.

The tables were covered with all different plates and kinds of cookies, and then this one tin of fudge. I slipped a piece into my mouth.  Mmmm. It wasn’t the least bit sugary or dry.  It was creamy with the right amount of crunch from walnuts.  Manna, I thought.  I watched as the hoards of children hit the first table, piling up cookies in their napkins in spite of my best-practiced Withering Glance, the swarm getting closer and closer to this Bit of Heavenly fudge.  Just as the leading edge hit my section, I snatched up the tin.  “No,” I said.  “This is just for the adults.”  I then walked around offering a piece at a time to the grown-ups, trying to locate the owner and maker of this perfection.  I found her, and she sent me the recipe.  So, Monique–if you’re reading this blog–many thanks!

Creamy Chocolate Fudge

1 jar (7 ounces) of marshmallow creme

1  1/2 cups sugar

2/3 cup undiluted evaporated milk

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 package (11 1/2 ounce) milk chocolate chips (~2 cups)

1 package (6 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips (~1 cup)

(Note: I have reversed the proportions of the chips on occasions for a slightly less-sweet fudge.  It works fine.)

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine marshmallow creme, sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt; bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  BOIL FOR 45 SECONDS ONLY!!  Otherwise it will be too grainy.  Remove from heat and stir in chips until melted, stirring vigorously.  Add vanilla and nuts and pour into buttered 9 x 13″ pan.  Cool 2 hours or until firm.

 

Christmas Caramels

When I was nineteen several young women in my acquaintance were married and at each of their weddings was  large basket of wrapped, homemade caramels.  More than a few found their way into my purse for the drive home.  A older woman in our church, Mrs. Woodruff, made them.  She was our orthodontist’s mother, interestingly.

Right after Thanksgiving one year I called her up and asked her if she would teach me to make them.  I drove up to her house, bringing the butter, whipping cream and other ingredients with me.  The first thing she did was open up the cream and dump it all over the sugar. “Whoops,” she said.  She shook her head.  “That’s not right.”  She put the pan in her pantry and said, “That’ll be for something else later on,” and we started again.  I think of that now as I’m approaching her age.  Just say “Whoops,” when a kitchen mistake is made, and move on.

The trickiest thing about these caramels is finding the correct pan.  You need those cheapy pans from your local store–nothing fancy.  They’re a little smaller than the typical baker’s half-sheet that I normally use.  Known as a jelly-roll pan, it’s nice and shiny, and when it gets old, rusty and too full of cutting lines, toss it and start again.

Here’s the recipe, step by step.  The version without pictures is at the bottom of this post.

Caramels

2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 pint whipping cream
1/2 cup evaporated milk (1 small –5 oz.–can)
1 small bottle clear Karo corn syrup (2 cups)
1 cube of real butter
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 buttered jelly roll pan
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
 

First step: butter the pan.  With real butter.

Combine the sugar and corn syrup. Cook until full boil and it turns a creamy color.

Add cream and evaporated milk (it will foam up; be careful, but keep stirring).

Bring to a boil, then add butter.  Normally most people would know what adding butter looks like, but this picture is for my friend Judy, who loves lots of photos in her recipe steps.

Is it done yet?  No.  If you yank them too early, they’ll be mushy-too-soft caramels. Like your neighbor’s.

Now it’s done.  Color is a good cue, but really it’s the caramel-into-the-glass-of-water test that really is the determinant.

Cook until caramel hardness (3/4 to 1 hour) keeping it at a low boil the whole time, and stirring occasionally.  We test our caramel with the old-fashioned water-in-a-glass method.    Drizzle a bit of the caramel into the water, feeling it into a ball, and seeing if it’s the texture of a caramel.  (It doesn’t hurt to pop this sample into your mouth to see.)  Don’t get the water ice cold, or you can’t figure it out. With practice, you’ll know exactly when its ready.

Remove from heat, then stir in nuts and vanilla and pour into the pan.  I always pour a little bit out on one end to give to those who don’t like nuts (I place a spoon underneath the opposite edge of the pan to keep it tilted), then after adding the nuts to the main caramel batch, I pour the rest in (and remove the spoon from underneath).  Let sit 24 hours, covered with a sheet of wax paper.

Cut pieces of wax paper, by ripping a three-inch strip off of the roll, then slicing into into half, then half again.

I do about 6 little strips at a time, making 24 little squares of wax paper.

Cut across the short end of the pan making a long strip about 3/8″ wide.  No wider.

Cut this into about 7 equal pieces and wrap in squares of wax paper.  (Mine are usually longer and skinnier than this photo shows.)

They keep for a season, if they last that long.

Merry Christmas!

************************

Caramels  Yield: 2 1/2 pounds

2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 pint whipping cream
1/2 cup evaporated milk (1 small –5 oz.–can)
1 small bottle clear Karo corn syrup (2 cups)
1 cube of real butter
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 buttered jelly roll pan
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the sugar and corn syrup.  Cook until full boil and it turns a creamy color.  Add cream and evaporated milk (it will foam up; be careful, but keep stirring). Bring to a boil, then add butter.  Cook until caramel hardness (3/4 to 1 hour) keeping it at a low boil the whole time, and stirring occasionally.  We test our caramel with the old-fashioned water-in-a-glass method.  Don’t get the water too cold, or you can’t figure it out.  Drizzle a bit of the caramel into the water, feeling it into a ball, and seeing if it’s the texture of a caramel.  (It doesn’t hurt to pop this sample into your mouth to see.)  With practice, you’ll know exactly when its ready.  Remove from stir in nuts and vanilla and pout into the pan.  I always pour a little bit on one end to give to those who don’t like nuts, then after adding the nuts, I pour the rest in.  Let sit 24 hours, covered with a sheet of wax paper.

Cut across the short end of the pan making a long strip about 3/8″ wide.  No wider.  Cut this into about 7 equal pieces and wrap in squares of wax paper.  It keeps for a season, if it lasts that long.

Turkey Gravy

Another inexact science.  If you want exact, Google it.

Generally it goes like this.  Turkey drippings are really fatty, and you don’t need all of them otherwise you’ll be making VATS of gravy.  So drain off all but about 1/2 cup.  I save them just in case I want them. I place the turkey pan, with its drippings on a couple of burners, and start scraping and stirring while adding an equivalent amount of flour to the pan, start with about 1/2 cup.  Stir, stir, mixing it in and letting this roux cook and brown (but not too fast–don’t have the heat too high).  When all the flour is incorporated, start adding the giblet brew first, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing it in, adding more, and when you run out of that and if the gravy is still too thick, add chicken broth. If you over-added and it’s soupy, don’t despair.  Put 1/2 cup cold water into a Tupperware-style container, add 3-4 tablespoons cornstarch, and shake well.  Add this a little at a time until you see the mixture thicken up.  Note: some use flour in that water mix, but mine always is lumpy and then I have to strain it, which is doable.  I just prefer the ease of the cornstarch.

Salt and pepper to taste and get someone to help you tilt the pan to pour it into the gravy boat.